Old Sheep, Pulpit Committees, & Hirelings – How They Hinder Education

 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (John 10: 11-12)  

Old Sheep

I define “old sheep” as the older members of a church congregation, especially if they have fat wallets, the ones who call the shots, or run, (or at least try) the church operation for that congregation.

Pulpit committee

A pulpit committee, is a group of people who search for a replacement for the pastor wh0 is leaving due to retirement or to take a higher paying job at another congregation.  I have long wondered why there are so few congregations that have a strong discipleship emphasis that prepares another person in the congregation to replace an outgoing pastor. I have often heard Candidate A is a better speaker than Candidate B, or that his church had tremendous growth,  without regard as to WHY it grew so much.

Hireling

The hireling is a wage earner, and does a job for pay.  Based upon this definition, most “ministers of the Gospel” would qualify as hirelings because they are paid with MONEY.

In summary of old sheep, pulpit committees, and hirelings.  The system is “man centered” as opposed to “God Centered,” because  pulpit committees function to employ a hireling to satisfy the desires of men.

The Love of Money is the Root of the Problem

I have told this story often about a conversation with a man who was part of a congregation that did not pay anyone to guide their group. I ask him a direct and simple question, “Why do you not pay anyone to pastor your church?” I am unlikely to ever forget his response, and I can still get a mental image of that soft-spoken man as he turn his head toward me with a wide grin on his face, and said, “We’re afraid he might tell us what we want to hear.”

Five centuries ago, in the year 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis on the door of Castle Church at Wittenberg. Many of those 95 were critical of the fact that some of the priests in the  Catholic Church required the payment of indulgences  for remission of sins.

Here is one of those, “ 27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as money clinks into the money chest the soul flies out of purgatory.” Source: http://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html
Nothing new under the sun, right?

For the old sheep who try to control the congregation/pastor, money is a necessary item to institute new programs, build new buildings, and establish  those  things for the satisfaction of members of the congregation, otherwise they will eventually lack enough money to continue operating.  This definition can be the same for some pastors.  The words “lack of money” are seldom used in discussion.  More than likely we are to hear “controversial,”  such as talking about Christian education five or six days a week, which in reality means, “Let us not offend anyone because, those who disagree may stop coming to Sunday morning services, and therefore quit putting money in the collection plate.”

Full Time Ministry versus Part Time

In many ways, the idea of “full-time ministry” has exacerbated the problem.  I have heard the phrase many times, and it implies that part-time ministry means one is not worthy, or qualified for full-time.  Full-time usually means one gets paid, whereas part-time often means there is no pay.  Therefore, by extension, full-time equates to hireling. Some of the very best ministers I have seen were volunteers, usually Sunday school teachers. Full-time implies better qualified, seminary trained, etc…not necessarily so!

Lack of Long Range Planning

Instant gratification is the American way. In fact, America is obsessed with entertainment, especially in sports… close to the idiot level. It is no surprise that this has an influence on church congregations. This is not new because in 1889 Archibald Brown wrote about the emphasis on entertainment. You can read an excerpt from his book Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats.   Consider this comparison, short-term versus long-term plans for a congregation.

Short-term plans

A pulpit committee considers how well the candidate speaks, his seminary training, his social skills, and all things to make the pew-sitters enjoy his Sunday morning presentation.

Long-term plans

When a pulpit committee seeks to fill the pulpit, do you think they consider the people in the congregation for the second and third generations to follow? Not likely.  If they did, then Christian education as opposed to civil government indoctrination would be a high priority. Employment of a single man to lead should not be a primary objective; educating the youngsters in the congregation should be the top priority, so they can be trained in the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27),  opposed to employing a single hireling whose primary purpose would be to satisfy “itching ears” (2 Tim 4:3) of adult people seated in padded pews.  If you think I am incorrect, then I suggest you read the 14th chapter of  1 Corinthians. Just because congregations have been guided by single hirelings for centuries is not proof that the practice is as the Bible directs us.

Rather than satisfying the desires of the moment, we should focus on the many decades that lie before us, and the generations of children, grand children, and great grand children to follow.  God made women to nurture, especially younger children.  Tell me, what can be more natural than home educating by parents, especially mothers to the younger children in the home?

AND, a spin-off benefit of home educating would be the comfort of knowing that some God hater would not be telling your six-year old son that he could become a girl if he chooses to do so.


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